Local Toyota dealer praises Fremont police catalytic converter raid

The Fremont police raid of a recycling center over stolen catalytic converters drew praise Tuesday from a local Toyota dealership.

Police recovered 300 stolen catalytic converters during a June raid of Arrow Recycling Group on Warm Springs Boulevard.

"Well in my opinion, that’s the person you go after, because if you take away the people who are buying it, the guys stealing it have nowhere to go," said Philip Stravers, service manager at Fremont Toyota.

The recycling center occupied a nondescript warehouse near a badminton academy. Police say it was clearing house for stolen catalytic converters. 

Fremont police Capt. Eric Tang says undercover detectives spent months selling stolen devices at the company. Workers didn’t seem to blink.

"It became more and more overt, where we were either sketching in ‘stolen’ or putting in identifying marks on the catalytic converters, and the company continued to purchase catalytic converters," Tang said.

Police say the business was also processing the stolen converters.

Investigators found "numerous 55-gallon drums of refined catalytic converters, so these were the ones that were sent up, ground down," Tang said, adding there's been a noticeable drop in thefts since the raid.

It's a lucrative market. Catalytic converters, which control exhaust emissions, contain palladium and rhodium, metals that are now more valuable than gold.

The going rate for cut converters is between $300 and $1,100 but can sell up to $2,000. But the average cost to get a new device is $3,800.

On Tuesday, Arrow recovery Group appeared to be closed for business. The front door was locked, and no one responded to a voice-mail message from KTVU seeking comment.

Stravers said there were 10 Toyotas waiting to get new catalytic converters due to theft. He said he hopes the Fremont police investigation will send a message.

"It’s not only a hassle for the insurance companies that drives everybody’s insurance rate up, these poor people are being inconvenienced with their car, sometimes for months," Stravers said.